Most people know that dental implants are permanent replacement teeth. Beyond that, this extremely common procedure can seem like a mystery to the average person. Considering that 178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth, dental implants could help a lot of people restore their smiles… if only they knew about their options.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants have been a tried-and-true procedure for decades. Dental implants mimic natural teeth as closely as possible, and have earned their reputation as a reliable tooth replacement. Where your real tooth is connected to your jaw by the root, a dental implant uses a titanium root to make a similar connection.
Titanium has long been the go-to metal for biomedical uses, since it is highly biocompatible and is capable of osseointegration — a process through with the bone literally grows to the titanium, anchoring it. The titanium root integrates into your jaw similar to the way a real root does. Dental implants are as stable and functional as your natural teeth.
On top of the screw, dental implants feature a realistic-looking crown. Tooth fabrication has come a long way, and nowadays your dental implant can be custom colored and shaped to match your other teeth. Your implant will be indistinguishable from the rest of your smile.
What Are the Risks?
Just like any other involved dental procedure, there are risks associated with dental implants. However, those risks are incredibly uncommon.
For example, if your body rejects the dental implant, your dentist may recommend removing it. In general, the dental implant success rate is higher than 95%. Some people, such as people who smoke or chew tobacco, may be at higher risk of dental implant rejection. But successful implant surgery is possible if you communicate well and work together with your dentist to reduce your risks. Even patients who aren’t ideal candidates can enjoy the benefits of dental implants.
The most common cause of dental implant rejection is peri-implantitis, which is essentially the implant-related version of periodontitis. While periodontitis is an infection of the gum tissue surrounding a tooth, peri-implantitis is the infection of the tissue surrounding a dental implant. However, peri-implantitis prevention is easy in most cases with good oral hygiene habits. And even if you develop peri-implantitis, early detection and treatment can typically save the implant.
What is Life With Implants Like?
Dental implants behave, for all intents and purposes, just like real teeth. You should not have to change your diet or your lifestyle to accommodate them. Caring for your implants is just like caring for your real teeth: Brush twice daily, floss every day, and see the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
If cared for properly, implants can literally last a lifetime. Most patients keep their implants twenty years after receiving them, and some even keep them for as long as 50 years.